Qualification Requirements

The minimum qualification for all pre-school leaders, delivering the ECCE programme, is Level 6 (on the National Framework for Qualifications).
The minimum qualification for all staff working directly with children in Early Years services is Level 5 on the National Framework for Qualifications.

DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications

The DCYA has published a list of recognised qualificationsfor the purposes of meeting the minimum qualification requirement in the Early Years Regulations and for meeting the contractual requirements for the DCYA Childcare Funding Programmes.

This list enables employees working in the Early Years sector in Ireland to verify whether the qualifications they hold are recognised under the Early Years Regulations as required from 1st January 2017.  It also sets out the qualifications that will be recognised for the purposes of the DCYA Childcare Programmes, in particular, if the qualification they hold meets the requirement for the room leader in the ECCE programme and for a service to receive the ECCE Higher Capitation rate.

Where a qualification is not published on the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications but the holder considers it to be an appropriate Major Award at Level 5 on the NFQ or equivalent, the holder can apply to have their qualification assessed for approval.

The list of ‘Early Years DCYA Recognised Qualifications’ and the ‘Qualifications Recognition Application Process’ are below:

The list is updated on a regular basis as other qualifications are approved.

Further information on qualifications can be found here.

ECCE Capitation Payments

All staff caring for children in an Early Years service are subject to a minimum qualification requirement of Level 5 or equivalent from the 1st January 2017.

Payment under the ECCE programme is by way of capitation fees which are paid directly to the service provider.  A capitation fee is payable in respect of each eligible child enrolled in the ECCE programme, on a pro-rata basis if applicable.

Higher Capitation Qualification Criteria – The pre-school leader must hold the minimum qualification requirements for the ECCE Room Leader (Higher Capitation) as approved on the published list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications (see above) and all pre-school assistants must satisfy the Child Care Act 1991 (Early years Services) Regulations 2016 minimum requirement (Level 5).  Please note that a ‘grandfather declaration’ will not suffice for a pre-school assistant in the ECCE room where an application for higher capitation is being made.

The ECCE Higher Capitation rate must be applied for on an annual basis.